6 Ways to Help Your Marketing Partners Thrive
There are a few steps to creating and managing a successful partner marketing program:
- You’ve laid out the goals of your program and sold it internally - check
- You’ve built your program on an easy-to-use automated platform - check
- You have interested partners starting to sell your product - check
So what’s next in making your program a success? Providing your partners with the tools and resources they need to fully understand and sell your product.
It’s easy to set up your program and then get distracted by other things and assume it will run smoothly on its own. However, if you want your partners to not only sell your product, but enjoy selling it and even bump it to the top of the complimentary products they resell, it’s important to do the following 6 things:
Onboarding and Training
Have you ever told someone about a product you use and love? It’s so easy to explain how it can meet their needs when you fully understand the product, how it works, it’s best applications, etc. This is what you want need your partners and resellers to know.
Just getting a partner to join your program isn’t enough. You want to ensure that the time, money and effort you put into recruiting them wasn’t for nothing. Setting up a great onboarding program from day 1 will build their confidence around promoting your product and, in turn, answering their customers’ questions. Give them access to your product, training if your product is more complex, and support answering their questions - and you’re bound to see better partner engagement and results.
Most resellers sell a number of complementary products at a time. If you don’t want to be forgotten soon after a reseller joins your partner marketing program, stay in touch with them. Check in regularly to see how they’re doing, what they think of your product, what feedback they’re getting from their customers, and to update them on your new product features and changes.
A great way to stay in regular communication with all partners is through automated email flows. Some PRMs (Partner Relationship Management tools) like PartnerStack help you create a series of emails that are automatically sent out over different intervals of time, for example on day 1, day 5, day 15, day 30, day 60, etc. of a partner joining your program. This helps you stay in touch with all your partners, no matter when they join your program. PartnerStack, in particular, also lets you integrate with your existing email marketing tool if that’s what you prefer.
Look at where your partners are interacting online and develop a presence there too. You can create a LinkedIn or Facebook group exclusive to your partners. Or setup a monthly webinar to share information with them and answer their questions live. You can even invite your local, top performers to a bi-annual meeting at your office where you get to know them and build deeper relationships.
Sales and Marketing Assets
While partners are, by nature, outside of your inside sales team, treating them as extended members of the team is proven to make them feel more integrated with your company and product. This helps push your product top of mind when they’re selling a software package, per se.
As “honorary” members of your team, partners should have access to all of the sales and marketing assets your inside sales team uses. Give them sales sheets and FAQ documents but also images and key messaging you’ve already tested and know works well. Partners are likely to be less familiar with your particular market, so consider including competitor comparisons, best practices, case studies, client testimonials, and background information on your company as a whole to fully equip them.
When you give your partners more (approved) materials, you’re more in control of your brand image. It shows your third party sales people how you want your product to be talked about, and what visuals you want associated with your brand. This also makes it easier for partners to share materials with their connections quickly - without having to start from scratch thinking up content for a 4-page sales doc or a social media content calendar.
If you’re using a PRM with good tracking and metrics, you can also monitor what collateral is working the best for individual partners and push those materials to the rest of your partners. Your goal is to find the best of the best and help every partner succeed.
Your partners will inevitably go through busy times when selling your product doesn’t seem like a top priority to them. Those times are exactly when you need to be there reminding them that you are a priority! What’s the best way to do this? We’ve found “challenges” to be a great re-engagement tool. Challenges offer extra rewards to partners who “do X to get Y”. For example:
- They make 15 sales that month and get an extra $250 cash reward.
- They share a piece of marketing content they’ve created - you approve it - and they get an extra $100.
- You can even prompt partners to create a blog article about your product, or review your product on key websites, all in return for extra rewards.
The more your partners talk about your company and your product, the broader the reach of your product. And the more interest they get from the wide net they cast, the better they feel about selling. In the end, this all comes down to more revenue for both them AND you.
Elicit Feedback (And Listen!)
Interact with your partners! They’re the ones using your program and they have the best feel for what’s working, what isn’t, and what they need to better help them sell. With a program of thousands of partners, it’s almost impossible to speak with each and every one of them. But go through your performance metrics and make the time to talk one-on-one with your top resellers. They have invaluable feedback about their sales experience as well as customer comments and feedback that you definitely want to hear in order to make your partner marketing program as well as your product even better!
There’s nothing worse than having interested, engaged partners send you important questions, only to receive nothing in return for days and weeks. If you want your partners to feel valued, you have to acknowledge them and answer their questions - especially when they have a deal on the line. Partners may even need a specific asset to help them sell, and once you know what they’re looking for, you can provide it for them and quickly help them succeed.
Celebrate Partner Success
Finally, encourage your partners by celebrating their initial achievements and ongoing big wins! Something as small as a congratulatory email after every partner’s first sale can be a nice touch. Marking milestones like their first 50 or 100 sales (depending on deal size) is another great way to make partners feel valued and connected to both their program manager and your brand.
For your top resellers who bring you the most revenue, think of extra ways you can reward and recognize them. For example, sending them tickets to relevant industry events or featuring them in your next newsletter. Anything you can do to motivate them will result in them feeling even better about your program and generating more sales!
When you put these 6 items together, your partners should be set to effectively sell your product to their connections - broadening your distribution channels, increasing their product diversity, and growing revenue for both sides, a real win-win!
My final piece of advice? Don’t forget to measure, measure, measure! There’s no way to improve if you’re not measuring where you started, where you are weekly/monthly/quarterly, and what your top performers are doing that can help everyone else in your partner marketing programs succeed as well.